Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Skin We're In

Gearing up for summer means more baths for eternally dirty little people as well as near constant applications of sunscreens and bug spray.  Last year I did some research on the bug spray we had been using on our children and made the switch from chemical laden DEET sprays to a more natural option, Burt's Bee's Insect Repellent.  Although initially I balked at the price ($10 at my local grocery), my kids constantly getting eaten alive in the evenings necessitated SOME intervention.  It ended up lasting all summer, spraying not just my 4 kids but guests at family barbeques, etc.  And not only did it last, but it worked.  I loved that it was gentle enough to use on my baby and smelled great - not chemical at all.  I was also reassured that if one of the kids put their hands in their mouths, it wasn't such a big problem.

Thanks to the web database "Skin Deep", it is now possible to do a full evaluation of the products you use on a daily basis in your home.  Once I had tackled the bug spray dilemma, I started looking into other products, prompting me to find some more natural soaps to use on my little ones.  Dr. Bronner's Castille soap is a great place to start if you are looking for an organic option for your family.  I met a woman at my local farmer's market who makes all natural, vegetable based soaps with no dyes or other nasty stuff, and her prices are great.  To keep bar soap lasting, keep it OUT of the shower.  I set mine on the vanity just in arms reach from the shower.  Of course if you are feeling particularly crafty, you could always make your own soap...

Lastly, this article has a lot of parents looking at the ingredients in their child's sunscreen and asking "is this really safe?  Is it causing more problems than it is solving?"  Once again the Skin Deep database can help you find an appropriate sun screen for your child (we went with Badger brand SPF 30 sunscreen available at Whole Foods).  The price of natural sunscreens is definitely higher than their chemical based counterparts, but there are other ways to shield your kids from the sun as well.  This summer is marking the return of "sun hats" to our family wardrobe.  It may seem too hot, but sometimes a light weight long sleeved shirt is appropriate for out door play in summer.

Ultimately though, my kids will be outside more often than not, sometimes they will have sunscreen and sometimes they won't.  They will get bug bites.  They may even get a few freckles.  The important part is not to make yourself crazy about all the options and be biting your nails constantly thinking "does this cause cancer?  Does THAT?"  I read a few things that interested me, got me thinking, and prompted a change.  That is all the more mind power I can afford for this!  I'm on to getting out there and enjoying my summer and my kids.  That is really what it is all about anyway.


  1. Perfectly put as usual.

  2. It can get so overwhelming! My husband found the Skin Deep Data Base and sent me the article on sunscreen as well. We too spent time punching in what we use and traded in what we'd been using for "safer" options. It becomes absolutely mind boggling though and I too can only spend so much time and money with it. Do what you can with what you know and go on with life. I like Dr. Bronner's products. We use the Baby Mild Liquid Castile for hand soaps in the bathrooms and kitchen. Put it in pretty, glass pump dispenser bottles. Works great. I hear it has lots more uses than that but that is all we've used it for so far.

  3. I found your blog all on my own!

    My Aunt Meg had the perfect CHEAP remedy for bug bites although it only works if you get to the bite right after you've been bitten. She'd dip a paper towel or washcloth in a little ammonia--sometimes I'd dilute it a little--and rub it on the bug bite. Voila! no swelling or itching. We used to take a little bowl of diluted ammonia and a paper towel out on the deck and the kids would help themselves and apply after a bite.

    Love your blog! how do you find the time??!!



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